Nearly a week after landing back in the YUK, I'm sort of getting all reflective, and a bit soppy, and all that other stuff that one does after a big adventure. It's funny how I even ended up putting my (to be honest, rather uneventful) life on hold for a while and flying halfway across the world to abuse my accent enough to get laid. Well, enough to get a free drink at least.
I had a job teaching English as a foreign language last year. It was in Italy, and smug bitch that I am I got a week on the Italian Riviera with a hundred other tutors to learn exactly how to get nine year old kids to pay attention to a rousing rendition of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” (Tip: often it involves candy, and even more often suggestions of violence.)
Thing is, I was the only British chick there. There were two British guys- one chap who had forgotten to pack his personality, and a flamboyant gay from Nottingham who had bigger fish to fry than little old me- and everybody else was FOREIGN.
I remember my first morning there. It felt like one hundred blonde American cheerleaders were all, “Right, and then, like, totally, and I was like, whatever!” and I thought to myself, I can’t do this. I can’t work with these people all summer and live to tell the tale. I will either slice the wrists of myself or of them AND I WON'T EVEN BE SORRY.
Ten months later, I didn’t realise that I would be sat on the porch of my American flatmate’s family home just outside of Detroit, low spring sunshine setting the sky alight in pink flames, the smell of grass in the air, listening to her Poppa say in smooth, dulcet tone, “Most people are nice, you know, given the chance.”
Well buggar me if he wasn't bang on the money.
So I fell in love with the bright eyed, enthusiastic charm of my American colleagues, and I think they loved me back. I hope they didn’t just say that so that I would sleep with them on that final night. Then I’d just feel cheap.
I didn’t really realise HOW MUCH I loved them, and their positivity, and their can-do attitude, though, until I was back at home, about to enter into another year of academia at university. Yeah, I'm a twenty-four year old undergraduate. JUDGE ME. I was waiting for counselling (not the sort where you talk about your feelings. The sort where you figure out if your schedule works out or not) idly flicking through the program handbook and half-listening to two guys talking shit behind me.
These chaps were your typical undergrad DICKS. They didn’t want to be in school where they might actually have to apply themselves, and so they complained about the school. And about the weather. And about the girls they were seeing. And about the sound of the overhead fan. I swear to God these guys were so depressing that I was one more complaint away from asking them if they wanted to borrow my glass of razorblades and fifth of vodka when BOOM. The handbook asked me, “WANT TO SPEND A SEMESTER IN THE USA?”
Errrr, yes please.
So that day I got the forms and hounded the various people involved in the program for their signatures. No wasn’t an option. I was going to America.
Twelve weeks later I was headed for the city Lonely Planet voted the worst in the world. And I couldn’t have been happier. Or, quite often, more drunk.